A Frustrating Way Some Hyatt Hotels Play Games With Award Availability

I can deal with loyalty program devaluations, etc., but if there’s one thing I have little tolerance for, it’s loyalty programs playing games with members. Deliver on what you promise, and be transparent about what you’re offering.

In my opinion, this used to be the single best thing about Hyatt’s loyalty program. Don’t get me wrong, there were lots of other great things about it, but Hyatt’s program has been more about maintaining the trust of their members than just about any other program, in my opinion.

Unfortunately I’ve found that this has changed over time. For example, I’ve written in the past about the games that Hyatt plays with confirmed suite upgrade availability on Points + Cash bookings. Hyatt said that confirmed suite upgrades for top tier elite members don’t have capacity controls, and as long as a suite is available for sale, you can redeem a confirmable suite upgrade for it.

However, a countless number of Hyatt phone agents and hotels insisted that those making Points + Cash bookings only had access to a subset of this inventory, despite the loyalty program leadership insisting that’s not the case. This wasn’t just at a particular time, but this confusion existed for well over a year. To me, something doesn’t quite add up with that.

That’s not all, though. Hyatt has also been playing games with free night redemption opportunities. This is far from the first time I’ve seen this.

It’s especially ironic that this is happening at the Hyatt Regency Jersey City, where the Freddie Awards will be held in a couple of days (awards which are intended to recognize the programs that have gone above and beyond for their members).

Jersey-Hyatt

A few hours ago I looked up the rates for tonight, and saw base rooms for sale. However, they were only selling those rooms as part of a package. In this case, a “Bed And Breakfast” package was the cheapest option.

Hyatt-1

Why does Hyatt do this? So they don’t have to make award rooms available.

Hyatt-2

Hyatt advertises no blackout dates, and that you can redeem points as long as a standard room is available. A standard room is available here. However, technically a “standard” rate isn’t available for a standard room, but rather only special package rates.

This is dishonest, plain and simple. The irony here (as far as I know) is that the loyalty program is reimbursing the hotel at the average daily rate when the hotel is near occupancy, so I’m not sure what incentive the hotel has to not make award rooms available. I’m sure there’s a reason.

What’s clear, however, is that games are being played. A hotel doesn’t just accidentally not make rooms available under the standard rate, but rather only as part of a package. That’s intentional. Furthermore, this isn’t the first hotel where this has happened — I’ve seen this many times.

C’mon, Hyatt, you’re better than this…

Comments

  1. Agreed.

    Gary covered this a little while ago and brought up many more egregious examples. But I support shining many spotlights on this!

  2. Very frustrating and has been going on for probably 2+ years now. More recently I’ve seen hotels offering all categories of room under the Regular Rate EXCEPT the lowest category of rooms, which were being sold only under advance purchase rates… so again, no award availability.

  3. Keep calling them out on their B.S.
    Once enough customers go with competitors maybe they’ll get the message.

  4. This is interesting. I have been trying to get a award rate redemption at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay in San Diego for a night on July 8th. Probably about a month ago I had seen that there were availability for award redemptions for their Lanai King/Standard Queen. I honestly probably should have booked it then but was holding out because I had a upcoming Hyatt stay which would have given me enough points for the redemption without having to transfer points. Unfortunately, about a day after my stay the award availability is no longer available and the Lanai King/Standard Queen rooms are not available at a standard rate. Although to be honest I don’t believe the Lanai King/Standard Queen rooms were available at the time of award availability either.

    What’s interesting though is that if I check availability for AAA rates for that day, then a Lanai King/Standard Queen are available. I had thought that award availability might not available because the rooms have been booked but it seems like it’s still available at the AAA rate.

    At this rate, I’m just hoping that the award availability will magically pop up as the rate for the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay for that one night is an absurd $399 and after fees it becomes $466 for the one night. Pretty crappy for a hotel that by all accounts is showing its age.

  5. I’m pretty much done with Hyatt. I did the challenge two years ago and made top tier since then, but I find everything about them confusing. Stuff like the example you just gave is just more reason that I don’t have time for them.

  6. Hyatt os the Delta for hotels. I struggle to understand how they could move from being one of the best loyalty programs to hitting the bottom as the worst.

  7. “C’mon, Hyatt, you’re better than this…”

    No they aren’t, this is exactly what they are. This has been a practice for a long time across a broad range of hotels. The loyalty program is aware of it and ignores it. Their actions speak for themselves.

  8. So, food for thought, one of the challenges when it comes to hotel loyalty programs is the fact that most properties are franchised, and more operations than you would think are completely controlled by the individual property, within the confines of the franchise agreement. This is probably a loophole that was discovered by a property and then spread like wildfire. The issue here is that hotels cannot just force franchise agreement changes on properties, so it may be up to a year before this issue **could** even be resolved.

    I’m not defending Hyatt in any way, but the “fix” for this issue, even if known by Hyatt corporate, may be easier said than done.

  9. Can’t agree more. Emailed WOH Japan reservation office for P+C availability for Andaz Tokyo, they replied none available for the next 12 months!

    Ended up recommending me to book with full points instead, ridiculous!

  10. Ten Year Diamond

    Hyatt is dead to me. They don’t care about the loyalty program any longer

    Shift to Starwood and Hilton. The benefits are there

  11. Another example is the Andaz Maui. You won’t find award availability until you search for atleast 4 nights in a row. In addition, their “mountain view” and “garden view” are exactly the same but garden view is the standard one. Guess which one is always in stock? Mountain

    I imagine even if they get reimbursed they’ll take a paying customer over an award traveler due to spending habits? Award travelers are smart with their spending and know what to expect and what they deserve. Just an idea.

  12. I have to disagree with most of the comments. I have had no trouble booking both type of award stays at some of the top hotels such as Andaz Maui, Park Hyatt Paris, Hyatt Ziva Montego Bay and Andaz Tokyo

  13. I’ve highlighted this issue before but in the case of this property on this night I wonder if there was an IT or timing issue because there are indeed award rooms available now for Thursday night.

  14. Dick, just tried to book Maui Andaz with points for travel on10.23-10.27. It says no availability, but standard room is available for cash. Share your secret 🙂

  15. The Freddies has a captive customer for the awards. I was offered upgrades for specific prices with a top suite for $100 more per night. I am not taking any offers however, since I don’t plan on spending much time in the room.

    Isn’t this sort of like UA TODs. They would rather get $100 for the room, rather than upgrade a top tier for free.

  16. @IntlBizTraveler a matter of fact is that a lot of Hyatt owned hotels play game too. I think I remember Gary called that out. I’m so done with Hyatt. After burning my last 100k points with them, I will call it quit. Would rather go with Marriott.

  17. A couple of times I have run into issues with Hyatt where they say they sold out the standard room, so even though there are additional rooms for sale because they were not standard rate I was told I couldn’t use my free night. It happened with the Park Hyatt Tokyo. Then again they have nothing on the airlines that will sit on award availability until the last minute and make it difficult to redeem points. I may eventually switch to cash back cards and give up on this game. Doesn’t matter how many points i have if loyalty programs are going to make it really difficult to redeem them.

  18. @Leo you’d be surprised. As of their 2016 10-K filing (released this year), they only own ~30 properties worldwide. None of the above properties that have been mentioned as problematic are owned outright by Hyatt. Hyatt does enter into joint ventures wherein they own part of the property, but most of those interests are less than 50% which would indicate that they operate more as a franchisee than a corporate owned location.

  19. @Central90210 just booked Park Hyatt Tokyo and Andaz Tokyo for Thanksgiving. PHT has good cash & points redemptions for that time period still!

    It’s definitely annoying and pathetic that hotels play these games! Wehad good luck with the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek which we frequented this winter for skiing and burned a ton of points there. I know lots of people have written about the stinginess at Andaz Maui. Been trying to book something there forever and nothing is ever available!

  20. Don’t think just Hyatt , a lot hotel franchise is doing some sort of loophole to get away with their unrestricted award stay . Even for their top tier elites on award stay…Take the new transformed Conrad Bora for example , if you book with points you will see a rare avb because they made standard room type with garden view , and there’s only 2 garden view room on site . Chances are getting them with reward stay competing with other cash rate booking is slim to none . Some like IHG they simply release set of availability maybe like one a day. So far I find SPG is at best offering award stay when reg rate is avb.. though their pt cash is hit or miss

  21. @Lucky you should start an investigation into just how many insane excuses Hyatt throws up for not honoring their BRG.

  22. I just booked two rooms over Xmas n New Years a to the Andaz Papagyo at 15k/nt rack rate 1,000$+. That to me is great value. Thanks Hyatt!

  23. Absolutely true! I got 2 free nights that’s about to expire in 3 months and that’s because of Hyatt blackout dates. Tried to use them up on two occasions, no go. Such a scam.

  24. I live three blocks from the Hyatt Regency in Jersey City. You’re probably better off just staying in the city and just take the Path or ferry to the Hyatt. Can anyone attend the award ceremony or do you have to be invited?

  25. Yup this is a more blatant example, or how about limit upgrades to a certain room type.. for example they give it some weird name some suite subset that is very specific and only have a limited number of. This happened to be in one Hyatt property in NYC… this happens all the time with Hyatt and is more widespread than the example you provided.

  26. @IntlBizTraveler Don’t get me wrong. I am really sad to see how far my favorite program has fallen too. I had good memories with Hyatt, but the recent developments have been really bad. I couldn’t find a single award night at either Andaz Maui or the Regency Maui, and I really hate it when a program plays game with my loyalty.

  27. Another very recent example… I wanted to stay at the HR Boston a couple of weeks ago during the Boston Marathon. Granted this is a very high occupancy period, but for weeks every class of room was available except for the base. When they still hadn’t made anything available two days prior and availability for other room types was still wide open, I sent an email directly to the hotel. To their credit, I got a phone call pretty quickly advising me that they had just made rooms available and I could go online and make the redemption reservation. While it worked out, it seems clear they were playing with inventory to circumvent program rules.

  28. @Louis you make a good point – by not making the standard room-only rate available on Hyatt.com, the property can in effect avoid BRG claims (as Hyatt BRG only covers room-only rates, not rates including breakfast).

  29. This nonsense is infuriating.

    Even worse, though – I’ve contacted their support people several times over this problem. It was literally the same problem: A standard king is available as a B&B rate but not as a standard rate. They don’t seem to care enough to contact the property about it, and a few have even argued with me about what constitutes a standard room.

    I don’t think I’d ever bother going out of my way to earn their points or stay at their hotels. Hilton Honors is far more rewarding, especially as a Diamond Guest (with giraffe,) and Starwood/Marriott have better high-end properties.

  30. As a Hyatt loyalty program member, I used to book points and cash stays at Park Hyatt NYC, for standard rooms, which rate was 15000 points and 300$ but they no longer offer this option… (Altrought this rate is supposed to be available in grade 7 properties…) and I also noticed that the 10% member discount that is offered on PHNYC website can’t be found for any dates (I have tried all dates for the coming months….). Very disappointing

  31. im having this issue with the Park Hyatt NYC. its such a shame as hyatt was my go-to chain whenever i travel. i will probably end up booking the Conrad with some spare Hilton points i have.

  32. A Hyatt gaming award availability? I’m shocked :rolleyes:

    There’s a lengthy FT thread on this very common practice.

  33. I have spent 35 years staying at Hyatt’s and was like a walking advertisement for them. I have stayed in suites at some of the best Hyatt’s in the world (Vendome, etc.) and loved it. When I planned trips, I actually chose cities and countries based on where Hyatt’s were located. This year, I am giving up my Hyatt credit cards and pretty much writing them off. The main reason is dishonesty not just on redemptions, but also on challenges (changing cut-off dates after qualifying and other things). Throw in the status downgrade for Hyatt card members and that is just it. When I feel like I cannot trust a program to even follow their own rules, I walk away.

  34. Just tried to book points and cash at the NYC Park Hyatt. Was told there was no availability but I could book a points and cash suite for $400. Later after I book they tell me it’s $400 plus 30,000 points and a DSU. I had them cancel the booking. This tells me that the Globalist status is useless.

  35. re: Hyatt o&o properties, back about 2-3 years ago Hyatt cut a deal to sell ALL corporate owned HPs, at least all in the US. That really cut down on the size of Hyatt’s hotel portfolio.

    I’m in the same boat as a number of other commenters, i.e.- I am also a Hyatt Diamond/Globalism but never again. Hyatt’s treatment of their “regulars” has gotten pathetic. Since the change to WoH I have not stayed one single night at Hyatt. So far I’ve found the SPG/Marriott behemoth to be far more rewarding.

    At this point, to get me back Hyatt would either need to make a _radical_ improvement in elite benefits like what Lucky has just written about (not gonna happen) or radically increase elite point earning (highly unlikely). Adios Hyatt.

  36. @Lucky — show me where the T&C of HGP or WOH have stated that any kind of award is not capacity controlled and you’ll have point. Taking Hyatt officials’ claim over what the T&C do not offer is how many of the canards that I have been shooting down get started. They are just made up!

    HGP was NEVER the program that you and other bloggers convinced yourselves and your sycophants it was. It was always, at best, a work in progress; at worst, a joke as a loyalty program.

  37. Thanks Lucky! I agree with all of your points the good and the bad with regards to Hyatt! And I especially agree about how they have built a lot of trust with program members but this is not cool by any stretch and I agree it should be exposed. As a Diamond/Globalist member you have access to a personal “Conciarge” as well as a separate line to top tear Hyatt agents, I think everyone here should make comments to them about this. The top needs to see that these little sneaky things are not tolerated by the members.

  38. Since World of Hyatt took hold everything about the program is disingenuous . Previously as a Diamond Gold Passport member rewards were honored with little or no issue . From my perspective the current program is a sham and treats members with utter disdain . I have destroyed my membership card and moved my support to SPG and how refreshing, to be treated with respect and courtesy is alien to Hyatt .I will never go back as the change has highlighted just hoe bad Hyatt has become.

  39. Hi Ben,

    Nice subject. Maybe will open up more honesty from the hotels.

    Oh how many times have we been treated like crap by Marriott when using points. They deny it up and down to your face, but the truth is, too many times at different properties has this occurred to us. And it doesn’t matter if you are Platinum, or even Platinum lifetime.
    Don’t go to Hyatts so haven’t experienced that but certainly know that feeling.
    Kent

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